Tag Archives: LGBT

Children and Transgender People Part 2:

I received some great responses from part 1(you can read that here) and some really fantastic questions to answer in this section. As always you can ask questions here in the comments, on facebook or tweet me @aud_gabriel.

First I’m going to start of with the questions I received from a friend via tumblr. V.L writes;

“One thing that has been hard for me and maybe you can address more eloquently? is that I’m getting the more difficult questions from my almost tween.  She wants to know why trans folk are discriminated against.  Like she doesn’t quite grasp how evil the world can be.  How do you talk to a kid about that?  It’s so hard for me to explain why people are being shitty to one another because it doesn’t even make sense to  me.”

These kinds of situations are where a “no labels”/”we are all human” only rhetoric and understanding falls apart and inhibits your child’s ability to be a successful ally to trans people. Because even if you teach your kids “labels are for soup cans!” not everyone else does, and kids will bully and take notice of how others treat transgender people. A no labels approach is noble, but it isn’t an effective ally strategy. Humans do notice difference, and some people act very hostile and even violent towards that difference.

You can explain that the world is a very complex place, and that people often react with fear, anger and even violence to these complexities. In the case of trans people our existence challenges some very,very deeply held beliefs. The idea that there are, and only should be two mutually exclusive genders that your gender is immutable after birth and no changing can happen, is literally one of the foundations of western society.Transgender people shake that belief. It causes a very fundamental fear  in people. “if they are transgender, if their gender changes..what about me? Could that happen to me?” For many cisgender people this is a terrifying prospect. Gender is something that we base a lot of ourselves around. Transgender and especially genderqueer/non binary /gender non conforming people shake that base. When that is shaken some people would rather react with oppression, violence, bullying instead of taking a look inside themselves and examine their gender and answer tough questions.

“Another topic I’ve come across is the inevitable interest in parts and the different genitals people have and what that all means.  Believe me kids that age, if they are brought up to not be ashamed of their bodies like mine were, do not hesitate to ask for the details.  So maybe just a way to explain how genitals =/= gender in kid terms even though they’ve been immersed in a society that tells them the two are one and the same.”

It is great that kids are open and comfortable with their bodies. While telling kids that questions about genitals are rude and should only be asked by doctors is a good route it doesn’t always stand up to persistent kid curiosity.

Genitals are body parts. Just like our hands our. We all interact and use our hands in different ways. Some people havebig, strong hands and use them for working, other people have small delicate hands and might play piano. Some have fat chubby baby sausuage fingers and use them to type up blog posts. Each person has hands, but interact with them and have very different relationships with their hands. You can’t tell a person’s gender from just their naked, unadorned hands. Lots of women have big,tough hands, men might have tiny, delicate fingers and keep their nails in perfect condition. Some have short stubby hands that look like a childs even though they are 28. So if we went around and looked at everyones hands and assigned them labels, and lives based on what we thought their hands meant, for example making a woman with big hands do construction work, even though she loves to paint, and someone with small hands play picolo even though they hate music, would be wrong and make everyone miserable.

Genitals are just another body part that each human relates to in a different way. Like hands we all have them, they all look different, but they don’t define us and our relationship to the world or gender.

For parents with younger kids you can get around this question by emphasizing  that genitals are VALUE NEUTRAL.

Instead of “boys have penis’s and girls have vagina’s’ teach them that “some people have penis’s, others vagina’s and other people a mix of the two and that is normal”

“Another thing as kids get older is they tend to want to hear the history of trans activism and why it’s important.  And the reason they want to know more details is that they don’t hear about that sort of thing in school or anywhere ever.  So a kid’s history of trans activism would be super helpful.  It puts everything in context for them.”

This is an incredible question. I’m actually going to branch it off into its own desperate post about trans activist history for kids.

What I will say for now is that this is another time where “no labels/people are people” rhetoric is incredibly harmful to children, cis and trans. The reason kids don’t learn about trans people in history in school right now is tied in with the previous question, and sociatal cissexism and transphobia. Refusing to talk about people who are/were trans because “it isn’t important” erases them from history and a larger cultural context. For trans kids this means they suffer in silence, not knowing that their are others like them who have come before, that they have peers now. They loose out on the ability to find their culture, and yes transgender people do have a culture and a history. This is erasure and cissexism hiding under a blanket of psuedo progressive rhetoric. With out knowledge of trans history trans kids don’t know their rights, what they can do in the face of transphobia that has helped others. Cisgender kids have cissexism reinforced, after all if trans people had a history and really mattered, why don’t adults talk about them? By refusing to address trans issues with your kids, no matter their gender and no matter the reason you reinforce societal cissexist notions. Then when your child does encounter a trans person they may respond in a negative way, because they are having their implicit assumptions about the world shaken and have no previous positive frame of reference.

“Along with that comes the discussion of what to do if they see someone being bullied for being trans.”

This is where discussing trans issue with kids in order to make them successful allies becomes very important. If they know transgender people exist, that we are often hurt and bullied then dealing with this when they see it is much easier. A strong foundation of allyship needs to be laid. If the child is old enough you can explain that as a cisgender person they are incredibly lucky that they don’t have to deal with that (in social justice terms this is “privilege”) and they can use that luck to help. Because of transphobia and often unconscious cissexism trans/gender varient children are often victim blamed by others. “If they just dressed “normal” or “didn’t make a big deal out of it”(often this “big deal” is what would be considered a normal desire for acknowledgement and respect) they would not be bullied. Even otherwise perfectly kind teachers, administrators and parents might believe these things and not intervene or take the trans child seriously. Here is where your child can be an ally. They cann stand up for the trans child/person and confirm the happenings. They can get other children in on it as well. When 5 cisgender kids all back up Sally about being bullied by Bob, Sally is much more likely to be believed then if she mentioned it on her own.

If the bullying is violent they need to immediately either find an adult or if they are out of school or feel that they are unsafe as well dial 911/999 for help from police or to get the harmed person medical attention.

If the violence is more subtle or verbal teaching them to stand up for trans people by saying “stop that!” or “don’t use those words!” to bullies is one way. And trans people and kids will be so incredibly thankful for it.

Wow this was very long!

I still have a few more questions from other people to answer so it looks like this will be a 3-parter!

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Filed under LGBT Writing, Trans, Trans*

Let’s Talk About t.A.T.u and their place in queer history and monosexism,biphobia and misogyny

If you were alive in the early 2000’s and near a radio or TV you probably heard of the band t.A.T.u, a russian girl duo consisting of Lena Katina and Julia Volkova. They burst onto the international music scene if their mega huge hit “All The Things She Said”. While a great pop song on it’s own right (all these years later and it still tops polls on billboard polls) it featured something that was considered very shocking at the time. A same sex kiss between the singers and the content of the song was definitely queer. At the time of the recording of the original Russian version (the much more techno Ya Soshla S Uma/ I have lost my mind) both singers were only around 15 years old. By the time the song was translated into english and re-worked it they were around 16, with their English album’s debut,17. What is important to remember is not only were these two minors, they both spoke very little or no English (Lena speaking some but Julia speaking very,very little at all and learning English lyrics and interview answers by route/phonetically). They kissed and danced provocatively on stage and in videos and answered interview questions in the most lewd,scandalous and provocative ways possible.Often asserting that they were together as a couple or having sex.This was all a creation of their very creepy manager Ivan Shapavolov. He told them what to say, what to wear, how to dance and the two had no control or recourse.

It was speculated that they weren’t really a couple from the moment they arrived on scene.And later on in 2004-ish it was confirmed in their reality show that they were never really a couple nor lesbians as the media claimed they were. The group eventually broke from their manager and went on to record a very good second album, including several tracks that outright deal with bisexuality. Because by that time Julia had confidently come out in Russian media as a bisexual woman.

What coverage the album did recieve always hinged on the whole “not really lesbian/not really queer” and used the queer themed songs as a way to rag on the group, to accuse them of “continuing the faux lesbian schtick” when out of the two one was in fact queer and for all we the listeners knew was singing from experience. While the songs on the second and subsequeint albums are not perfect representations of queerness or with out their problems they were non the less, there, being sung by a queer person.

But due to our societies monosexism this was ignored.While the media and music consumers could easily handle Lena being a monosexual straight woman, the idea that Julia was bi was quickly forgotten or ignored. t.A.T.u and by extension Julia and Lena became the mid 2000’s poster children for the age old biphobic “doing it for attention” and “don’t trust teen/young girls about their sexuality” bits of terrible “wisdom”. Never mind the misogyny there, or the intense biphobia.

So as far as the west was concerned t.A.T.u fell off the planet, only to be mentioned again when the old biphobic “faking it” horse needed a good flogging into a greasy smear and then forgotten about.

So instead of looking back on their long career (something like 12 albums if you count the russian and english versions separate, around 6 if you don’t) and celebrating it as a moment where a queer woman broke through into mainstream pop,with a song about being queer as an important moment in history, we are instead left with mocking headlines like “faux lesbians to perform at olympics” from sites geared towards queer women! This sends one very clear message; bisexuals do not count. You can see other examples of this type of treatment in mainstream pop such as with Lady GaGa. GaGa has come out multiple times as bisexual and as of her most recent release has around 6 songs that directly deal with bisexuality or bisexual themes. Yet like t.A.T.u’s songs of the same nature, “Americano” and “So Happy I Could Die” are thrown in the sapphobic rubbish bin right next to “Loves Me Not” and Julia’s solo career singles, nearly all of which are bisexual in theme.

This erasure of bi women is endemic to the music industry,the music reviewing industry and as places like AutoStraddle and AfterEllen proved with their coverage of t.A.T.u’s brief reunion for the Sochi Olympics, it is endemic in our own community spaces.

So instead of praising a brave, bisexual muslim woman for being out and proud in a country that is actively trying to harm all queer people, all I see, especially since Eurovision and Conchita Wurst’s win is derision of the group for reasons from totally valid (lip synching) to out right biphobic.

Julia Volkova was a bisexual woman when she recorded for t.A.T.u . She was a bisexual woman at Eurovision (both times t.A.T.u went) at the Olympics and right now.

I know for many people my age t.A.T.u was an integral part of coming to terms with our identity. I’ll never forget the pain I felt when I learned that they “weren’t really queer”. The damage done to my grieving heart when the derision and “all girls do that for attention,just like that band”.What made it worse was when interviews were translated and Julia came out as bi, nobody listened. It didn’t matter. She wasn’t the right kind of queer, monosexual. She was played off by so many hurtful tropes, liar, doing it for attention, bisexuals aren’t really queer.

was t.A.T.u problematic in many ways? YES. Undoubtedly so. Is Julia and her solo efforts problematic? YES.

But that doesn’t mean we should let the prevalent misogyny, monosexism and biphobia in our communities,industries and memories over shadow what was a triumph of a queer musician. A pop group, a kiss in the rain that led to Madonna Kissing Britney, Katy Perry,Rihanna,Lady GaGa, Niki Minaj. If a bisexual hadn’t kissed her bandmate in the rain so many of these pop stars wouldn’t be where they are today. For god or ill. t.A.T.u and Julia Volkova helped shape the music and entertainment world we  have today.

A Bisexual did that. A Bisexual was the face of that.

It’s time we all overcame this biphobia,misogyny and monosexism and realize that is part of our history. And it should be known.

Also go buy “Dangerous and Moving” it was a freaking great album.

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Your Purity Does Not Concern Me: So What If The Definition of Bi is the Same as Your Definition of Pan.

In the last few years the bisexual community (edited especially on tumblr)has been working to root out transphobia  and cissexism from our community. (edited: though the communit has defined itself in trans inclusive ways since the very begining. See the “Bisexual Manifesto” available on BiNet USA’s site. H/T to Camille of The Bisexual Organizing Project for reminding me of this fact)One way we have done this is by working to use non cissexist and non transphobic definitions of our sexuality. Definitions such as ” the romantic/sexual attraction to genders similar and different from your own” or as ” attraction to more then one gender”. These definitions are what most bisexual organizations use and what most bisexual activists and writers are now using.We have been going out into the wider LGBTA world with it, contacting organizations to have them change from the cissexist definition of “men and women” or of ” both genders”
As I have mentioned before the only definition that should count is the one that is generated and used by the community.
I have in the course of my activism come across a interesting and worrying phenomenon.
Recently on tumblr user gohomebiphobia posted this definition of bisexuality. It is 100% how the modern bisexual movement conceptualizes bisexuality. It is an amazing informative post.
Sadly it has received back lash, not from straight bigots but from other LGT people and most worrying from other non monosexuals, especially pansexuals.
This has come in the form of really horrible identity policing and gohomebiphobia and other bisexuals being told that they are not allowed to define their sexuality or that pansexuals/omnisexuals know more about bisexuality then actual bisexual people.
At other times this backlash has taken on the form of cis pansexuals/other non monosexuals talking down to or over trans* people ( like me) to prove the bisexual communities definition “wrong”. I’ve also seen people engage in gross tokenisim of trans* people by these people.

The real important thing is this:
so what if the the definitions are the same or extremely similar? Why would that be a problem?

If I go over here and make a definition and call it Bi and someone goes over there and makes a definition and calls it pan but the definitions are the same similar then what is the problem? As long as the two do not really on things like transphobia ,misogyny or the negation of the other ( example definitions of pansexuality or omnisexuality that rely on a negation of bisexuality or the need to forcibly define bisexuality back into cissexist terms ) then it should be fine.
Both describe the same thing, non monosexual desire.

People who show up on posts like gohomebiphobias screaming about how the definition is wrong because it is to similar to pansexual need to sit and think about why that is a problem.

I guarantee that behind these peoples desperate need for the definition to not be similar is ideas of biphobia and purity.Many people who eschew the label Bi do so because of ” the stigma of being Bi” so they use a different term for their non monosexual attraction. By having the non cissexist definition of Bi becoming more and more popular and accepted it in cringes on the purity Bi stigma free zone they have tried to create.

But part of this stigma is that bisexuality is inherently binary or transphobic.These accusations are often couched in nice sounding social justice language so for the longest time it was considered a legitimate reason. But as Bi activists challenge and change that the only reasons left will become increasingly biphobic.

But your need for purity, for a Bi free zone, the need to have a sexuality that you can crap on to make yourself look good does not concern me.

Actively working towards an end to cissexism and transphobia does. And as pan/omnie/polysexuals claim they want to help end these things so they don’t use Bi.

One way to help would be to help propagate the inclusive definition.Instead they resist and fight. Simply playing around with Latin and Greek prefixes is not enough to make you a trans* ally. If you want to be one you need to support communities that are actively trying to fix transphobia and cissexism like what the bisexual community is doing now.
The only reason not to support this effort is through a need to keep distance and “purity” from contamination from being associated with bisexuality in any way.Biphobia.

So if you are pansexual,polysexual,multisexual or any other non-monosexuality and when you come across the same/other genders definition or the more then one gender one and your immediate response is to shout ” no it’s not!” And then try and derail or otherwise try and stop that definition in favor of a cissexist one then you need to stop and examine why this is and your commitment to trans* issues.

Odds are you have some biphobia to work on

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Gasping for Air: Biphobia, Suicide and Me.

A few weeks ago I wrote about how biphobia impacted my life in the form of rape and it’s effects on me at the time. But the story does not end there, nor does the biphobia and pain.
I had been admitted to a day program after suicide attempts and other dangerous behaviors. It was my first time being one on one with the med giving doctor. He and a smiling pretty med student were in their along with some other tall bald thin man. I told him the whole story. I cried. The poor med students face, she will be a good doctor. Then he said those words. That it was my fault. I had been drinking and had been out as bi. Every guy knew that was code for sexually promiscuous. That I should call my mother who had coldly asked me “how much time did you waste over this? Did you blow a whole semester? How much of our money did you waste?” That I should beg her to forgive me.

Everything went so silent.My bag with my books had these little jingly silver metal bells on one of the zipper’s.I remember how cool they felt in my fingers as I crushed the metal between my fingers till they were flat and I bled. Their sad little death jingles.Everything was muffled and my vision tunneled.I felt this rage.I was murderus.I don’t remember what I shrieked at him. Maybe that he was cruel, a terrible doctor a monster.Yes I remember calling him a monster. I remember my bloody fingers crumpling up his paper and to his surprise I grabbed his little note pad and tore off the first three sheet and flung them at him.All his little jottings now smeared with blood and ruined. I was going to lunge at him.Months of rage and pain and tears.Hot tears. Then I saw the pretty med students face. She looked just as angry at him as I was. She looked like she wanted to reach out and touch me. That brought me back. I took my bag and books and walked out. No one stopped me or even noticed as I climbed up those steps from the buildings basement. I walked out into the freezing air and began to walk. I walked and walked. I made it to the grocery store maybe 4-5 miles away. My legs hurt from the hills and I had frozen matted hair and little frozen tears on my face. It was February. I called my mother in law to come get me. I wiped my face off with a tissue I found waded up in a coat pocket. I opened the van door and climbed in beside her and vowed I would never let any one hurt me or make me that angry again.

We drove home and I told her what happened.We got burger king.I had chicken fries with their weird almost ranch like buffalo sauce. I went home and crawled into bed.

I woke up and picked up Pema Chodron’s ” When Things Fall Apart”

I found one of those crushed jingle bells in the bottom of the bag years later. It still seemed to have blood on it or maybe melted chocolate and it still tried to jingle.

It is treatment like this that leads to the high rates of illness and poor health reported by bisexuals.image

Why go get help for our ridiculously high suicide rates ( 40% of bisexuals have attempted suicide) or go disc louse our sexuality to get treated for health concerns? I have had medical doctors make lewd comments to me if they know, dismiss me wholesale or accuse me of lying. With that kind of treatment no wonder we have the worst health versus the L and G and Straight people!
image

A great effort has been made to make medical spaces gay and lesbian friendly. School counselors offices boast “safe space ” sticker s. Many students find out that it is a safe space only for lg people.

A concerted effort must be made to educate medical providers on the realities and the painful impact biphobia and erasure has on bisexual people. These are illnesses, very real and painful caused by the medical and large LG groups ignoring the health and wellness needs of the largest part of the community.

We need a plan. We need to come armed with facts and figures. Because it us clear that they will not do it for us. They would rather silently crush us like a cheap jingle bell until we have no voice.

We need to jingle and be loud in this vast sea to get noticed. We need to be fearless and look at our doctors and therapists and say ” No. You are wrong” We grow up with this idea that doctors and therapists are gods incapable of wrong existing in some sort of pure neutral science bubble, free from bias and personal hate.That bubble is so dirty it is more like a black hole. They are human and their own biphobia, misogyny and other privileges and biases can and DO blind them and cause harm rather then healing.

Stand up. Even if you cry and get angry. You are real a human and you deserve to be heard and treated with respect. Tear up papers if you have to. Get the point across. We are not some sad jingle bell the Bi community is a huge gong banging as we are buffeted about by the waves. Listen for it and take a deep breath and be strong.

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<3’s not Parts is Body and Fat Shaming

Let me put this out there right off the bat.I am a fat person.I know I am a fat person.I have spent a large portion of my life constantly hating myself for being fat.This was confirmed when I recently cleaned out some things at my parents house and found a journal from around 1st-2nd grade where I talked about how I hated myself for being fat. How I was unlovable.When it became apparent that I would never be thin and therefore ~worthy~ family consoled me with the fact that I had “a great personality!” or a “pretty face!” the undercurrent always being that these were consolation prizes due to my fatness and therefore my bodily unworth.

It has taken me the better part of a decade to slowly undue all this internalized self hatred and learn to love my body fat and all.

When I first got involved in the LGBTQ community I ran into lots of xsexuals who would gleefully tell me and others who posted on places like Fat Genderqueers that because they were xsexual they “loved and were attracted to personalities/souls not bodies” at first this thrilled me and made me happy but the more I heard it over time the more a creeping chill sank in.

At birthday parties “Well at least Aud has such a sweet personality to attract a spouse with.Poor dear has to have at least something” Aunts would whisper. At the pool in the summer girl scout leaders would mutter “Aud’s nothing much to look at, all chubby like that, but at least being that bookish means a rewarding and rich career” It hit me

Saying “I love you for your PERSONALITY was just a sanctimonious form of the bullying I had endured as a child.It meant that these people were deigning to look past my hideous body fat and disabled.They were doing me a favor! Now these same xsexuals were always putting up photos of conventionally  attractive, thin, white able bodied cis people on their blogs and crowing about how “hot” they were.No fat people.No disabled people.For us they had to “look past” for thin,white and able it wasn’t needed.

I want my partners to see and love my body.Acknowledge it’s fat and scars and pain.I want to be with people who see ALL of me always.Not selectively look past difficult things like my fat,my gender or my disabilities and illness.

Claiming that you “don’t see bodies” is fat shaming.It is disgusting.And it needs to stop.

Bodies are real and valid.Claiming your sexuality enables you to not see/see past the body invalidates my struggles and body it does not make you queerer, more enlightened or better.It makes you a fat shaming coward.

You are allowed not to want to have sex or relationships with fat people.Or people with brown hair or blond or pink.Preferences is ok.We all have them.Subtly shaming me for my body while claiming you are above preferences or bodies or whatever makes you a hypocritical bully hiding behind false sanctimony.

*Note: I know that at one time the slogan “Hearts Not Parts” was a Bisexual movement slogan meant to help combat biphobic notions of “over sexed bis”. I feel that at this point the orginal sentiment has been twisted and turned into a hideous monster by the ABB crowd that results in fat shaming,disability shaming and a host of other problems.

Note Note: I use xsexual here to mean any sexuality that uses the “hearts not parts”/”personalities/souls” logic to define the sexuality. Insert whatever you want for value x.

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Hearts Not Parts Makes me Want to Puke

AN: in this I use the term x-sexual. Though currently this rhetoric is disturbingly prevalent predominantly in  certain circles I chose to use “x” because the logic still stands and like an 1800’s masquerade attendee idiocy changes masks often but is the same underneath so for longevity sake I use x sexual. X stands for any number of sexualities and groups that at the time might be doing a certain behavior. There are no such thing as xsexuals in reality. It is a value place holder.

” I fall in love with people not genitals!” ” x-sexuality means you fall in love with a person not their genitals/gender” or my current fav ” xsexual means you love a person for who they are.In short true love”
These are all examples of rhetoric I have seen on the web and heard in real life.
I understand that this rhetoric started as a counter narrative to the heterosexist myths of over sexed gays and especially bisexuals.It did and still does work in dialog occasionally.But it has over time and with the emergence of the Anything But Bisexual (ABB) movement and the quest to be The Queerest of Them All by young newly out nonmonosexuals turned into something all together loathes some.I see slogans like this on graphics that zip across the web and paint one sexuality as better, a sexuality of ” true love!/genderblindness”!

Lets look at this again ok?
Every one of those slogans has an under current.It seems cute at first and all but underneath it is a venomous poison.
If xsexuality means ” you like a person for who they are not their parts”/” it’s true love”/” fall in love with people ” that implies that all non xsexuals DO fall in live with ONLY genitals.That the love experienced by gays,lesbians,straights and bisexuals is not “true love” that love is some how lesser or fake.This includes you.This means that all non xsexuals only want sex.And if the “born this way” rhetoric often employed shortly after these statements are made, it means that forever and ever all people who are not xsexual are a lesser class of being.

Now who does that rhetoric sound like? Lesser class of person…oversexed..only want sex…can’t love…
Oh right every heterosexist bigot oppressor EVER.

So knock it off and think about what you say and who you sound like.
Before I puke all over you.

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The Trevor Project Was Wrong: What Katy Perry Needs to Do to Make Things Right

The Trevor Project recently gave Katy Perry an award.That is utter frelling B.S.To save time and space go hereto read why Perry is a biphobic,transphobic,homophobic bigot.
So what,in this quests opinion would it take to soothe my wrath and get me to buy her cs’s?

1: Remove “Ur so Gay” and “I kissed a Girl” from all future printings of “One of the Boys” album.Never perform them live again.Stop all printing of the singles.Take the “I kissed a Girl” video down from her official youtube.Also remove them from itunes/other digital venues

2: Donate any remaining money from those songs to Bisexual and Lesbian charity groups and the money from “Gay” to suicide prevention and education.

3: Apologize and take responsibility for the harm her songs and attitudes have caused.Specifically to the bisexual and trans* community

4: Work with trans* advocacy groups to put an end to her transphobia and cissexism

Do those 4 things and I might,just might consider her next Cd.I might even someday consider her an ally.But she will have to do those things to prove she is serious.Serious about the very real damage her actions have done.

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